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2013 Volkswagen Touareg 150TDI Review




Since the first Volkswagen Touareg was introduced in 2003, it has built up a reputation as an all-rounded SUV with proper off-road capability while retaining good road manners. It does all this without the boxy shape so common of other full size offroaders at this price range.

Building on this simple recipe, the third generation Touareg sets in to offer even better performance, space and fuel economy.

The range starts with the base 150TDI (tested here), V6 TDI, V6 TDI 4XMOTION and top off with the flagship V8 TDI R-Line. Recommended driveaway price starts from $72,370 for the 150TDI, which despite being a base model, isn’t quite as poverty specced as we expected after spending a week behind the wheel.

Design and Comfort

After three iterations, the 2013 Touareg’s exterior styling has properly matured into a neat, modern and friendly design. Volkswagen is aware that most people who buy SUVs, even proper ones like the Touareg, keeps them on the tarmac most of the time. So, the Touareg’s design is one that is clean and classy to suit the urban landscape.

Compared to the previous model, the new Touareg’s CD factor has also dropped from 0.38 to 0.37, thanks to better aerodynamics and the redesigned front end.

Inside, the spacious cabin continues the exterior’s simplistic and elegant styling approach with a clean and functional dashboard. The instruments are easy to read and all buttons and switches are ergonomically layout.

The Touareg is no doubt one of the best SUVs to be taken out for a long drive. The full leather seats offer plenty of support and are so comfortable you never feel tired travelling in them. In fact, you wished you had missed your destination just so you could continue driving!

Thanks to the 40mm increase in wheelbase compared to the previous model, cabin space has improved with enough room to carry five adults in comfort. Usable storage space is aplenty around the cabin and there is 580-litres of cargo space at the back, which can be extended to 1642-litres with the rear seats folded down.

However, it is disappointing that there’s still no option for a third row of seats in the 2013 Touareg, making it strictly a five-seater. This could be a dealbreaker for some buyers considering almost all of its rivals have a 7-seats option.

Score: 8.5/10

Performance and Handling

The 150TDI is powered by a 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 developing 150 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque. An 8-speed automatic gearbox delivers power to all four wheels via the 4MOTION AWD system, which misses out on low range gearing and lockable centre differential found in the upper spec models equipped with 4XMOTION AWD.

On tarmac, the big SUV offers excellent refinement in terms of drivetrain as well as noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). The V6 diesel has an abundance of torque, and when paired with the impressive smooth shifting 8-speed automatic, provides all the performance you need in daily driving. Despite tipping the scale at over 2 tonne, the Touareg still manages to pull a remarkable 9 seconds (claimed) in the century sprint.

The Touareg’s nicely weighted steering feels direct but can do with a little more feedback, while the brakes are strong and consistent. It also feels very easy to drive around town thanks to a small turning circle and good all round visibility.

With the Touareg, Volkswagen has shown us that a comfortable, soft riding SUV doesn’t have to sacrifice too much in handling. It feels composed around the bends and body roll is always kept in controlled.

At freeway speed, the Touareg’s cabin remains quiet with road and wind noise well suppressed. There is also very little noise from the diesel engine at a steady cruise.

On treacherous surfaces, the Touareg is equally capable. With the 4MOTION AWD in off-road mode, the system will automatically detect that you are on a gravel or snow track and effectively work out the best way for maximum traction. It reacts to the slightest wheel slip and automatically sends the right amount of power to the wheels with the most grip.

Score: 8/10

Quality

As one would come to expect from a Volkswagen, built quality and fit and finish are top notch, with high level of attention to detail. The upper dashboard, door trims and most contact areas have intelligent use of soft touch materials, while the superbly comfortable seats are covered in high quality leather.

In terms of reliability, the Touareg should be relatively trouble-free compared to the rest of the Volkswagen range, considering the SUV stays away from the troublesome twin-clutch DSG in favour of a conventional torque converter type automatic transmission.

Score: 8.5/10

Economy

The new Touareg is, on average, about 200 kg lighter than the superseded model, thanks to a redesigned suspension system. The AWD system has also been optimised for better efficiency and all models now come with auto stop/start engine deactivation.

The result is a noticeable improvement in fuel economy. Our 150TDI, which is the most fuel efficient model in the range, managed to return a reasonable 8.3L/100km (7.2L/100km advertised) with an equal split of urban and freeway driving. On a single tank of diesel (85 litres), the Touareg is capable of about 1,000 km.

Score: 8/10

Features

Equipment levels are reasonably generous. For the 150TDI you get dual zone climate control, auto headlights and wipers, cruise control, full electrically adjustable front seats with seat warmer and reversing camera with optical parking system.

There is an AM/FM radio with 6½” touch screen LCD, MP3/WMA compatible SD card slot, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and in-dash 6 disc CD changer. Sat Nav and driver assistance package are both available as options.

There is also a large Multi-Function Display (MFD) between the dials for trip information. However, we think the space on this screen can be utilised better since it can only show one main item at a time.

On the safety front, the Touareg has enough airbags to stay afloat (9 in total) should it sink, Anti-Slip Regulation, Electronic Stability Program with antilock braking system and traction control.

Score: 7.5/10

Verdict

Our Score: 4.0/5

The 2013 Volkswagen Touareg offers great all-round performance with respectable on-road dynamics and genuine off-road ability. Its diesel engine and drivetrain are smooth and efficient.

The cabin is spacious and well built but a tad bland, while the seats are superbly comfortable for long journeys. However, the lack of 7-seat option is a let down.

The 150TDI tested here is reasonably well equipped and as a package, it’s quite good value too. But the Touareg is also up against better equipped rivals for the same amount of money, such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee which comes complete with all the bells and whistles.

Price (Excl. on roads): From $63,990

150TDI from $63,990;
V6 TDI from $79,990;
V6 TDI 4XMOTION from $84,990;
V8 TDI R-Line from $112,990
As tested: $63,990 (150TDI)

Warranty: 3 years unlimited km
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel (150TDI) 150kW @ 4,000rpm, 400Nm @ 2,000rpm; permanent all-wheel drive
3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel (V6 TDI, V6 TDI 4XMOTION) 180kW @ 4,000rpm, 550Nm @ 2,000rpm; permanent four-wheel drive
4.2-litre V8 turbo diesel (R-Line) 250kW @ 4,000rpm, 800Nm @ 1,750-2,750rpm; permanent all-wheel drive
Transmission 8-speed Automatic
Fuel Consumption (Combined): 7.2L/100km (150TDI); 7.4L/100km (V6 TDI, V6 TDI 4XMOTION); 9.2L/100km (V8 R-Line)
Body: 5-door SUV; 5 seat
Safety: 5-star ANCAP
Dimensions: Length: 4898mm, Width: 1965mm, Height: 1732mm, Wheelbase: 2904mm
Kerb Weight 2,154-2,264 kg

Competitors:

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, Ford Territory, Infiniti FX30d, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz ML, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Audi Q7, Mazda CX-9, Land Rover Discovery

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